The President as Dominatrix

Will Saletan and Timothy Ireland

The President as Dominatrix

Will Saletan and Timothy Ireland

The President as Dominatrix
An email conversation about the news of the day.
July 26 2000 4:14 PM

Will Saletan and Timothy Ireland

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Dear Will,

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Al Gore didn't sin by abandoning dignity; he sinned by aspiring to it. The vice presidency repels dignity like oilskin repels rain. Here's the job description: "Kiss the boss's ass until he dies. But first, beg and slobber like a hungry Rottweiler." Right now, in a dungeon just outside Hamburg, Mistress Magda is ordering a hogtied investment banker to do exactly the same thing. (Auf Deutsch, selbstverständlich.)

There's no dignity in the vice presidency, and things have been that way ever since Burr ventilated Hamilton's belly with a knuckle-size hunk of lead. Just look at the talent line-up: A monomaniac traitor (Burr), secessionist traitors (Tyler, Calhoun), a dyslexic plutocrat (Rockefeller), a clod (Ford), a foul-mouthed haberdasher (Truman), a whacko (Teddy Roosevelt), a moron (Quayle, and he certainly isn't alone), a tight-ass (Coolidge), a bigot (Fillmore), and a crook (Nixon).

And those are the veeps I like. Most of the rest were so colorless, they don't even merit ignominious mention.

Gore appears to be one of many Americans who believe in an earlier, halcyon age of clean, positive campaigns and selfless, virtuous candidates. This was the age when the press ignored the horse race and covered the issues. It was also a time when all political speeches were eloquent and informative, government corruption was rare, and Founding Fathers, like the great Thomas Jefferson, eschewed narrow, parochial concerns for--what, people?--the National Interest.

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Thanks to the wishful thinking of the Gentleman from Tennessee-When-Congress-Is-Out-of-Session, it's now an age when vice presidents were giants. I wish Al Gore well. As a Republican, I wish George Bush much better--but I still wish Al Gore well.

Let's talk about foreign affairs. Did you know that the United Kingdom is falling apart?

Great Britain--a proud nation full of bad food, bad teeth, dangerously inbred aristocrats, and hip, scatological art--is devolving into three nations with bad food, bad teeth, dangerously inbred aristocrats, and hip, scatological art. (Note: the hip, scatological art is a lot like the food; if you don't know what's in it, you won't throw up as quickly.)

The northern nation is called Scotland. It's governed jointly by a regional assembly and the Parliament at Westminster--to which it sends elected representatives. The southern nation is called Wales. It's governed jointly by a regional assembly and the Parliament at Westminster--to which it sends elected representatives. The central nation is called London. It's governed by a new mayor and the Parliament at Westminster--to which it sends elected representatives.

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There used to be a country called "England." Its subjects can send elected representatives to the national Parliament, but it doesn't have a regional assembly. Now the Scots can vote on English matters. So can the Welsh. So can the Londoners. But the English can't vote on Scottish matters or Welsh matters or London matters. Since they're proportionally under-represented in Westminster, they can barely vote on English matters.

That's because Great Britain's leader, Prime Minister Tony Blair, HATES England! Englishmen, you see, like to hunt foxes. They also don't vote for the Labor Party as often as they should. Consequently, an Act of Parliament designated them "A Band of Racists, Imperialists and Blackguards Who Dew Not Deserve Their Owne Regional Assembly." The Scots, the Welsh, and Londoners--non-imperialists if there ever were non-imperialists--will continue to run England's affairs until it's sufficiently civilized.

Prime Minister Blair is very fertile. First, he had a baby (the Labor Party is very, very progressive). Afterward, he had a whole bunch of embarrassing memos leak from his office. Then, he had a cow. The memos were embarrassing--not because they disclosed that he's an ineffectual gasbag but because they disclosed that he KNOWS he's an ineffectual gasbag. Now his government's approval ratings are dropping like the Concorde.

I can't figure out why. Her Majesty's Subjects hated the House of Lords. They hated it so much, they insisted on calling it "Another Place." So Prime Minister Blair marched over to Another Place, where he threw out almost everybody who had a hereditary right to sit around a giant wool sack and root for the Conservative Party. Today, Another Place is filled with appointed hacks and cronies who feel much more legitimate, now that they aren't surrounded by a bunch of hand-me-downs.

And the brave hacks and cronies have used their new legitimacy to oppose Prime Minister Blair's Labour programme (n.b.: words in the United Kingdom have more letters than they do here. That's because words lose letters when they cross the Pond).

Not very sporting, that.

Cheerio, Old Bean.

Timothy Ireland is a media consultant and former political reporter for the New York Daily News. Will Saletan writes Slate's "Frame Game" and "Damned Spot" columns.